As a result, city planning in the early stage of each mission is essential because you need to leave room for amenities that will only become available later. Even then, you’re almost certain to need to relocate some agricultural facilities further out of town in order to make room for new urban amenities. It’s annoying, but it actually makes sense, as this is one of the ways in which real cities historically develop. After all, there aren’t many farms within the M25. In fact, as housing develops and you reach key upgrade points, even the dwellings have to move. It isn’t long before you’re building new urban centres or the Roman equivalent of Millionaire’s Row.
With some money rolling in from the rich, you can then afford to build markets and ports for purposes of trade. In fact, even in relatively early missions you’ll need to sell products to raise revenue to afford mission-critical amenities, or buy products in (usually wheat) to build a bakery so that your citizens can rise up the property ladder. This in itself sounds a slightly false note – surely if your land supports olives, flax and grapevines, it could manage a little corn or wheat? However, the trade system is simple, sensible and doesn’t take up too much of your time, and the only slightly annoying thing about it is that some missions make you pay to open up a trade route. Just when you’re most desperate for money, the best way of earning it always seems to be 500 Denari out of reach!
Still, the best thing about CivCity: Rome isn’t the building, the trading or even the lengthy campaign. It’s not even the missions themselves, which hold true to the classic ‘gather 30 this, build five of that and reach a population of 5,000’ formula. No, the best thing about CivCity: Rome is the detailed way in which it depicts your citizen’s daily lives. You can watch the goats being slaughtered, the carcass being picked up by the butcher, and the meat being chopped, prepared and then delivered to the granary. You can follow the progress of stone from quarry to storehouse to shipyard, where it’s hoisted on to a waiting ship to be traded overseas. The approach even extends to your people, who can be seen in their leisure time visiting the temple, picking up goods or taking a bath. Hover over a house, and you can even see the little Romans snoozing inside.